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We shall not grow wiser before we learn that much that we have done was very foolish.

F. A. Hayek

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Settlement with Goncalves

Assistant Superintendent Diane Goncalves

Assistant Superintendent Diane Goncalves

The Region 1 Board of Education and the All Boards Chairs (ABC) committee met in executive session this week to settle the pending litigation of Assistant Superintendent Diane Goncalves against former board member Gale Toensing. Goncalves had taken legal action against Toensing and the Board for defamation, emotional distress, contractual interference, and invasion of privacy. In order to settle its part in the litigation, the Board voted to offer an early retirement package to Goncalves. After the meeting she accepted the offer; her last day is today.

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Exodus

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Students are leaving Region 1 schools. The enrollment at Housatonic Valley Regional High School is down to 395 students as of October 1, 2014 from 420 the previous year. The elementary school enrollment is declining as well. All regional enrollments are following regional declines in the birth rate. The student decline in Region 1 is about 5% this year, over 11% in the last three years. We are losing our children.

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Wisdom with a Broken Wing

Credit: Gary Hoch

Credit: Gary Hoch

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Listening

Seniors on the Housatonic Debate Team: Emily Sullivan, Sam Bradway, Evan Taylor, Matty Longwell

Seniors on the Housatonic Debate Team: Emily Sullivan, Sam Bradway, Evan Taylor, Matty Longwell

This week, the Region 1 Board of Education spent most of their meeting listening to various reports. Business Manager Sam Herrick reported on the official change in enrollment and its impact on the budget. Housatonic Principal Jose Martinez reported on various events at the high school including two professional development days for the teachers. Pupil Services Director Carl Gross reported on the enrollment in special education and various initiatives. The Policy committee reported out several new policies that the Board subsequently adopted. And the Board heard from the seniors on the Housatonic debate team.

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Recess and Irony

Kent Board of Education member Alan Priaulx

Kent Board of Education member Alan Priaulx

Thursday night, the Kent Board of Education held a very efficient meeting of just over one hour. They started on a policy for meeting conduct, and adopted as their yearly goal a review of their policies. In the middle of these discussions, Board member Rob Ober asked the board to consider adding an extra recess to the student schedules. Florence Budge, Principal of Kent Center School, reported on the busy first month of the school year. She noted that the implementation of PowerSchool was going well. Superintendent Patricia Chamberlain reported on administrative activities and gave student enrollment numbers for the region. Board member Alan Priaulx gave a detailed report on the Wellness Committee.

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Bogged Down By Money

ABC Chairman Electra Tortorella

ABC Chairman Electra Tortorella

The All Boards Chairman (ABC) committee met this week. They heard from Business Manager Sam Herrick about the budget process for the coming year. They went over a second reading of the joint agreement for regional employment of the Superintendent of Schools. They got bogged down in a lengthy discussion of how to proportion payment for her compensation among the various school districts. And they decided to send the template for the joint agreement on shared services off to the regional attorney for a rewrite.

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Administrivia

Region 1 Board members Jennifer Wiegel, Phil Hart, and Ned Gow

Region 1 Board members Jennifer Wiegel, Phil Hart, and Ned Gow

On Monday evening, the Region 1 Board of Education got started on the new school year. The evening was filled with numerous reports, punctuated by input from the new Principal at the high school, Jose Martinez. They heard an upbeat presentation on the advisory program which starts in freshman year. They hired two new teachers who are already teaching. The policy committee, obviously busy over the summer, reported back with a plethora of new and reworked policies. And they entered into yet another executive session, with the All Boards Committee (ABC), on the litigation of Goncalves vs. Toensing.

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Numbers

Housatonic Principal Jose Martinez

Housatonic Principal Jose Martinez

The first regular meeting of the Kent Board of Education was held Thursday evening. The new school year started well for Kent Center School. Principal Florence Budge reported on the status and the hiring of several new staff members. Jonathan Moore, Kent’s representative to the Region 1 Board of Education, introduced Jose Martinez, the new Principal at Housatonic Valley Regional High School. Martinez engaged in a discussion of the high school. The board also discussed the continued implementation of Common Core and the ongoing governance issues in Region 1.

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Onward to Governance

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This week, the All Boards Chairman (ABC) committee met jointly with the Region 1 Board of Education to discuss governance in Region 1. Chairman Electra Tortorella, Sharon, led the discussion. They went over an initial pass at a joint agreement for employment of a Superintendent of Schools. The discussion included the weight of voting on the ABC committee and the proportionality of payment by towns. They agreed to start review of a second joint agreement on shared services over the objection of Region 1 Chairman Andrea Downs. The group handled the writing of agreements as a committee of the whole, a twelve person committee.

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Once a Teacher, Always a Teacher

Assistant Superintendent Diane Goncalves

Assistant Superintendent Diane Goncalves

The Region 1 Board of Education and the All Boards Chairman (ABC) committee met in executive session this week to discuss the pending litigation of Assistant Superintendent Diane Goncalves against former board member Gale Toensing. The legal action has been ongoing for almost exactly one year, with the usual motions and delays typical of such courts. Apparently Goncalves had previously offered a contract buyout, so perhaps this meeting was a discussion of that offer. In any event, the situation is complicated by the fact that Goncalves is a teacher with all the rights of a teacher as specified by Connecticut General Statute 10-151.

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